Watch MaidPro’s instructional video below on how to clean your whirlpool or jetted tub in order to keep your family safe from germs and bacteria.
In Part 2 of our series, we looked at our pros’ favorite cleaning solutions; in Part 3 we look at the specific tools our cleaning Pros prefer for generating top-quality, long – lasting cleans.
If you don’t clean homes for a living, you might think there is little difference from one sponge or cleaning rag to the next, but you would be WRONG! Here are just a few of the considerations that MaidPro takes into account when choosing tools for our service providers to use:
Cross contamination. Perhaps the most important consideration for cleaning tools is their potential to port dirt, grime and germs from one surface to the next. How yucky is it to think someone might clean your kitchen with the same sponge they use to clean your bathroom? Unlike many non-professional cleaners (and more than a few supposedly professional ones), MaidPro is obsessed with avoiding cross contamination as our service providers move from room to room and from house to house. Our specialized tools, such as shoe-covering booties, changeable mop (‘Schmop’) covers and color-coded cleaning rags – green for kitchen, blue for bathroom and yellow for living and bedrooms – help us to accomplish this.
Effectiveness. For example, different sponges and rags offer different levels of absorption, which, along with the right cleaning solutions, can make all the difference between removing dirt and simply moving it around. At MaidPro, we choose cellulose sponges and microfiber rags for their superior absorbency.
Potential for damage. Balancing efficiency and effectiveness is the issue of protecting property. While a highly abrasive sponge will make quick work of removing crud and scum, it can also scratch or etch surfaces invisibly. Those scratches cause the surface to reflect light unevenly, making it appear dull rather than shiny. As dirt and oils settle into the scratches over time, the surface reverts more quickly to looking grungy and eventually becomes un-cleanable. Our Pros are well trained to know which surfaces can take which abrasives and always well equipped with an array of sponges and soft rags for any surface they encounter.
Job fit. If you have ever tried vacuuming a flight of stairs with an upright machine, or upholstery with the wrong attachment, you will likely agree that it’s better to have multiple machines for different vacuuming and dusting tasks. Our cleaning Pros carry two sizes of professional Sanitaire vacuum cleaners plus an assortment of specialized attachments for maximum cleaning efficiency and effectiveness. Meanwhile, our preferred lamb’s wool duster is a best fit tool for removing cobwebs from ceilings and dusting irregular items such as chandeliers, light fixtures, figurines, plants and other uneven surfaces.
Extensibility. Tools that help cleaning pros reach into oddly shaped crannies or up high without back or other muscle strain means more surfaces get cleaned more regularly and thoroughly, which keeps homes looking cleaner for much longer. Cleaning Pros, for example, carry extension poles with attachable ceiling dusters, enabling them to easily reach and dust ceiling fans, light fixtures and so forth.
Safety. Some special cleaning jobs, older ovens for instance, require harsh chemicals to get the job done right. All MaidPro cleaning Pros are trained and equipped to protect their own health by wearing breathing masks and rubber globes as specific jobs require.
So, now that you know all our secrets for cleaning solutions and tools, be sure to tune in for Part 4 of our ‘Clean Like a Pro’ series in which we look at how and why MaidPro’s cleaning Pros sequence cleaning jobs both within and among the various rooms in a home
Keeping your home tidy is one thing, maintaining it to a consistently high level of clean is something else altogether. Start the New Year off right with this five-part plan:
Wrap your brain around the WHY of clean. Plain and simple: clean looks, smells and feels good. It’s healthy. And it’s also a sound long-term financial decision; clean better and more often to preserve – even increase – the value of your home and possessions.
Get introspective. Take a brutally honest look at where your home typically falls on the clean-o-meter – and why. Love cleaning? Hate it? Don’t mind it, but have too little time? Once you’re committed to cleaner habits, your strategy needs a strong dose of personality reality.
Get up to code! If – despite plenty of time and effort cleaning – your home never really feels, smells or stays clean for very long – you may be overdue for some deep cleaning. Think walls, floors, ceilings, carpets, furniture, fixtures and places you can’t see such as inside vents, cabinets and appliances. If you’re WAY overdue for this kind of work, consider gifting yourself the services of a professional cleaning crew that can bring your home rapidly to a better starting point for weekly and daily cleaning chores.
Educate yourself. Using ineffective – or just the wrong – cleaning tools and solutions can be another reason your home is falling a little shy on the clean-o-meter. Coupons can be a big culprit here, so do some research to understand what works best, where and why so you can make great buying decisions around cleaning supplies.
Build a budget. There is just no getting around the fact that proper cleaning takes time. Figure out what it takes each week clean your home well, and make sure you budget either the time to do it yourself, or the funds to have someone do it for you.
If you are expecting a baby within the next few months, you are probably focused on getting all of your gear and decorating the nursery. Something else you need – but probably aren’t thinking much about – is a good cleaning plan. The presence of a newborn in your home means two things: more cleaning work and different cleaning methods. Here’s how to get ready for the big arrival:
Before Baby Comes
Assume you are facing at least a six- to twelve-month window in which you will:
- Have little time or energy for large cleaning jobs.
- Want to avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals that generate fumes and leave residues.
Make a list and plan with your significant other to tackle large jobs or consider having them done professionally not long before baby arrives. Focus especially on tasks that will improve air quality by removing dust, dander and other potential allergens from carpets, mattresses, upholstery, textiles and so forth. The overriding objective: bring your whole home up to a standard of clean that will be very easy to maintain after baby arrives.
In Baby’s first Weeks And months
Dr. Sinner’s famous cleaning formula says that four variables, chemicals, temperature, time and action – working together – equal clean. Shrink one variable and the others need to get larger to deliver the same result. Where newborns are concerned, chemicals are the variable you want to shrink, so time, temperature and action (elbow grease) need to increase.
Deep-cleaning your home before baby arrives is a good start. Another good strategy is to avoid dirt and allergens in the first place, for example, by asking people to remove their shoes before coming into your home to visit baby. After the big arrival:
- Baby’s nursery should be dusted, vacuumed and – weather permitting – aired out at least weekly or even more frequently.
- Specific areas of baby’s room: sheets, changing table, waterproof mattress cover and diaper pail should be disinfected often with a nontoxic disinfecting solution.
- And, because diaper leaks and blowouts are common occurrences, plan on sanitizing your washing machine at least weekly or more frequently as well.
Where you do need to use cleaning chemicals, be sure to select high-quality cleaners that are effective in small amounts and designed to avoid leaving residues (many inexpensive and so-called ‘nontoxic’ or ‘green’ cleaning chemicals don’t meet this criteria). Also, be sure to read and follow directions closely to ensure you are realizing cleaners’ disinfecting and sanitizing benefits.
When Baby Starts To Move
While always bearing in mind that babies are born with wonderfully effective immune systems that need some exposure to germs to work properly, plan to increase the frequency with which you dust, vaccum, mop and scrub the floors throughout your home once baby starts rolling, dragging him or herself around and crawling (typically between five and nine months). Since babies love knobs and buttons, plan also to pay more attention to disinfecting things like remote controls, drawer pulls and cabinet knobs that are typically within baby’s reach.
One final piece of cleaning advice: when babies spit and/or throw up, it’s generally going to hit your clothing, carpet, furniture upholstery, bed spread or some other absorbent textile in your home. Depending on baby’s age and food stage, permanent stains will result if these textiles are not treated immediately and thoroughly to remove the agents that can interact chemically with your textile’s fibers.
Chances are you stick to a set list of weekly cleaning chores in your home. Here is a checklist for 14 not-so-routine cleaning tasks that should get your attention anywhere from 2-4 times a year with fall being one of them.
- Undersides of counter overhangs, tables, chairs and other surfaces. People tend to grip the edges of things especially when leaning. The resulting accumulation of grime and gunk may not be visible but can harbor germs and trap odors.
- Insides of drawers and cabinets. Emptying and cleaning cabinets, drawers and organizing solutions creates a great opportunity to sort and reorganize their contents and to toss expired items.
- Drawer housings and tops of cabinets. Pull drawers all the way out if you can. Depending on what a drawer gets used for, you may find crumbs, scraps of paper and even a few long-lost items that got pushed up and out the back of overfilled drawers.
- Inside your dishwasher. Especially if you live in an area with high mineral content (hard) water, you may notice deposits or odors building up inside your dishwasher. The good news: very little scrubbing is required. Use an appropriate solution in an empty dishwasher on a high-heat cycle; the only thing that may require a good scrubbing is the edges around the dishwasher door.
- Inside your washing machine. Newer washers may offer a sanitization cycle; be sure to use to remove germs from the washer drum and agitating elements. This cleaning can also be managed manually with careful application of a 1:10 bleach solution.
- Light fixtures and bulbs. Cleaning dirty light fixtures and dusting bulbs improves the illumination of your home just as the days start growing shorter and nights longer.
- Toys. Dirty toys can harbor germs and contribute to an overall impression of dinginess in your home. Colorfast plastic toys can be soaked briefly in a solution of bleach and water then rinsed thoroughly and dried. Smaller toys can be cleaned in your dishwasher.
- Small appliances. Think coffee makers, toasters, mixers, blenders, portable fans, built-in bathroom fans and so forth. While many small appliances only need a little extra attention to scrubbing out the crevices, your coffee maker may need decalcification to improve taste while portable fans should be dismantled and cleaned thoroughly either before placing into storage for winter or removing from storage during the warmer months.
- Closet floors. This is a quick hit. Next time you are vacuuming, dusting or mopping your floors, remember to pull everything off your closet floors and go over them as well.
- Dryer vent system. Lint accumulation inside your dryer housing and venting tubes poses a fire hazard. A quick vacuum four times a year is all it takes to minimize the risk.
- Refrigerator vents and coils. Dust accumulation here contributes to inefficient cooling and greater electricity use. If you have water filtration or automatic ice making system, you may need professional help to pull out the appliance and accomplish this maintenance (if you have a plumber in for any other job, it’s a great time to ask for this help). While you’re at it, replace your water filters too.
- Window screens and housings. While washing windows is a 2X/year task, screens and screen housings should be vacuumed and/or cleaned at least once every season to improve views and prevent more pollen and dust from making its way into your home.
- Chimneys and flues. This is important home safety maintenance that should be conducted by a professional at least once a year. If you didn’t do it in the spring, now is the time before winter sets in.
- Computer keyboards. You may be in the habit of dusting keyboard surfaces, but they occasionally need a little inside cleaning too. Compressed gas for doing so can be purchased at local office supplies stores.
STEP 1: DOORS
Remove all bottles and jars either to countertop or cooler. Remove door shelves (if possible) and place in sink to soak while you clean and dry the insides of your refrigerator doors (working as quickly as possible to keep the fridge open for a minimum amount of time). Be sure to clean around the sides of doors and also in the grooves of the sealing gasket. Close doors and scrub shelves. If shelves are too large for your sink, rotate them so each part gets a good soaking before trying to remove dried and ‘chilled on’ gunk. As you dry door shelves, inspect for spots you missed and re-clean as needed. Return dried shelves to doors. Wipe and dry bottoms of all jars and bottles, checking expiry dates and sorting by like items before returning to fridge doors.
STEP 2: SHELVES
Food crumbs and debris will fall down as you remove shelves for cleaning, so start at the top and work downward, following the same basic sequence of steps as for doors.
STEP 3: DRAWERS
The same basic cleaning sequence applies for drawers, but they have more moving parts that can harbor grime, so pay attention for opportunities to dismantle and clean parts separately. Also, before soaking, use your vacuum cleaner to remove larger food particles and other debris. You may also encounter hardened liquid spills hiding underneath drawers; soak with a hot cloth to soften and gently scrape as needed.
STEP 4: FREEZER
Remove food to cooler. Remove and soak any baskets and/or shelves. Remove ice trays/buckets and discard old ice but do not soak ice trays in soapy water; defrost and clean with hot water only. Brush any debris to floor and vacuum. Before returning to freezer, check dates on frozen foods and discard items that have gone past their recommended safe freezing timeframes.
STEP 5: VENTS AND COOLING ELEMENTS
If your refrigerator is NOT hooked up to water filtration or automatic ice making system, pull out from wall, unplug and vacuum cooling coils and back and don’t forget to clean the top. If the fridge is hooked up to water, you may need professional assistance to complete this final important step for ensuring cooling efficiency.
For a comprehensive list of what you’ll need to give your fridge a deep clean, click here.
Pinterest, one of the newer sites to explode on the social media scene, offers lots of great content around home organizing and cleaning. Here are nine quick tips for getting the most out of it.
Commit to the concept. The whole idea of Pinterest is to replace the mess of notes you write yourself or magazine pages you tear out whenever you see ideas you love. Try to get in the habit of using Pinterest instead of all those life-cluttering activities.
Be a pinner, not a follower. There are so many great ideas on Pinterest, it’s easy to get stuck there, simply following and repinning other people’s content. Be sure to add the ‘Pin It’ button to your web browser so you can be ready to pin great cleaning, home organizing and decorating ideas from all over the web whenever you encounter them.
Plan out and create your boards. It’s annoying to have to stop mid-pin and create a new board, so spend some time thinking about the kinds of ideas you are most likely to pin and get a bunch of boards ready ahead of time. Good ideas for home-related boards include: decorating, organizing, cleaning, DIY, holidays and seasons.
Research your repins. Before repinning an idea on Pinterest, be sure to click through to ensure the link connects to the original content source. Some don’t and it can be a huge disappointment to revisit a pin weeks or months later only to find a photo with no info behind it.
Lemons make pretty pictures. Keep in mind that Pinterest is both a visual and social medium. That means it favors popular trends such as sustainable living and features lots of lovely pictures of lemons floating in mason jars and attractively presented ‘green’ cleaning and other homemade concoctions. But, while some do-it-yourself solutions may be effective, others can be downright dangerous or damaging to your home. Best advice: Take an interest in the ideas you find on Pinterest, but arm yourself with authoritative follow up information such as Green Cleaning Myths Debunked.
Beware of spam. It has not taken long for spammers to get a hold of Pinterest and, unfortunately, they seem to have identified the word ‘cleaning’ as a great keyword for attracting people to bogus content. If you see comments or a message noting that a pin links to spam or inappropriate content, take heed and do not click through. Also avoid following anonymous boards with titles like ‘cleaning, cleaning, cleaning’ and stop spam from spreading by never repinning items without first verifying the links.
Be wary of product-driven boards. While many savvy product marketers will take the time to create useful and authoritative content for their customers and prospects, others just want to sell you something via Pinterest, so keep a wary eye when following product company boards.
Go with the pros. A great strategy is to find and follow boards from trusted publications such as Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living and Better Homes and Gardens that focus on cleaning, organizing and decorating for the home. A fast way to find publications’ official boards is to search the publication names in Pinterest and click on the People link under the search results.
Follow judiciously. Another good way to leapfrog spam on Pinterest is to find and follow boards from individual Pinners with good reputations for validating and pinning only authoritative content. A fast way to find reputable Pinners is to check out who your favorite publications follow and go from there.
KITCHEN. Back-to-school means food shopping less frequently, buying more on each excursion, cooking more often and struggling to serve nutritious, healthy meals in less time. Get ready by,
Cleaning out your cabinets, discarding all food items that have gone past their freshness dates and moving older items to the front to ensure they get used first.
Deep cleaning your refrigerator and freezer. This is actually recommended six to 12 times per year; pre back-to-school should definitely be one of those times.
Organizing food storage solutions – sort and neatly stack food containers and lids, discard stained and orphaned items and stock up on freezer, sandwich and snack bags.
Giving your recipe book/box a good purge and sort. The process will inspire meal and snack diversity by reminding you of recipes you haven’t made in a while and making space for new easy and nutritious meal ideas.
BATHROOMS. Bathroom wars are a hallmark of back-to-school as everyone wants to sleep as late as possible and timeframes for morning ablutions become extremely short and inflexible. Promote efficiency by,
Purging, organizing and stocking vanity drawers and cabinets,
Checking expiry dates on all items in your medicine cabinet, and
Taking an annual foray through your linens closet; inspecting and either discarding worn or rarely used items or converting for other uses such as storage padding and cleaning.
OFFICE SPACE. Back-to-school is guaranteed to bring an influx of physical and digital media – forms, notices, artwork, handbooks, emails and so forth – into your home. Get ready by,
Clearing bulletin/note boards of dated content,
Conducting an annual purge of filed papers,
Organizing frequently used phone numbers, email addresses and documents such as birth certificates, physical/vaccination records and emergency contact data,
Deleting or archiving old computer files and emails, and
Setting up folders for keeping new content organized and easy to locate.
OTHER LIVING SPACES. Back-to-school typically means more regular use and churn of more items that can cause a daily clutter explosion in your home. Get ready by,
Making space in storage spaces, including bureaus, under beds, closets, and junk drawers,
Assigning specific places where frequently used items will be considered ‘put away’.
Educating family members about where those places are, so they can be effective when asked to help tidy up.
Six months to one year in advance:
1. Budget and start saving. Organizing your garage properly (and any other long-term storage space for that matter) requires investment in solutions that will help you to optimize the space. Think: hooks, racks, shelves, peg boards, tool benches, sturdy containers and bins, cabinets, and so forth. Don’t purchase anything yet, but research your storage options, costs and set a budget and/or savings goal.
Two to three months in advance:
2. Plan for removal. Before you start ripping your garage apart, put a plan and budget into place for removing the things you no longer want. Consider hiring a dumpster, scheduling charity pickups, or planning a garage sale to recoup part of the cost. Arrange to borrow or rent a pickup truck or van and research the places that might accept your junk; find out what hours they operate, what they charge, and who can take hazardous items such old paints, solvents, pesticides, batteries, etc. Find out also if you have opportunities to convert junk to cash, salvaging scrap metals such as copper, aluminum and steel or selling off any surplus building or home improvement materials you may have on hand. Note that some towns and cities will allow you to schedule and pay low rates for extra-large trash pickups, so it’s worth checking in with your local DPW as well.
3. Select and reserve a whole nice-weather weekend (plus a backup weekend in case of rain). If extra work will be needed (such as painting the garage’s floor or interior walls), consider adding a third day to your plan. Recruit all able family members to help. If you have teens, consider offering to pay one or two (but not too many) of their friends to join your work crew.
One week in advance:
4. Check the long-term weather forecast. You need two unequivocally sunny days; warm but not stiflingly hot or humid. Adjust your plan as needed.
A few days in advance
5. Purchase plenty of healthy ready-to-eat foods, snacks, drinks and water. Ice down drinks in a cooler and make a great music playlist. Also, gather supplies you might need – hoses, sponges, buckets, cleaners, rags, etc. – that you can use to clean items before returning them to your garage; a clipboard, pencil and paper for taking notes; and any tools you may need to install new storage solutions.
6. Get an early start. Take everything out of the garage. As you go along, sort into large designated areas such as: keep ‘as is’, clean, fix, donate, sell, and junk. Be ruthless in deciding what you will keep and make detailed notes about how frequently you expect to use each saved item, how easily accessible it needs to be and what type of storage solution would work best.
7. Divide up your work team into crews with designated tasks such as sorting, loading, hauling, cleaning things you intend to keep, sweeping, hosing down, painting and otherwise cleaning the interior of the garage.
8. Take your frequency/accessibility notes and make a storage and organization plan. Head out to purchase the hooks, racks, shelves, installation hardware and any other storage solutions needed to execute your plan.
9. Install and place storage solutions according to your plan.
10. Move cleaned, sorted items into their new designated storage spaces. And remember to reward your crew and celebrate your own hard work and ‘new’ spiffy garage.
Heavy-duty grill cleaning is a once-a-year job best done at the start of each new grilling season. For gas grills, ensure all knobs are set to off and disconnect propane. When cleaning the main grill apparatus, focus on getting the outside shiny and appealing, but don’t put too much effort into cleaning the inside; remove loose debris and ash but refrain from scrubbing away all that great cooked-on ‘seasoning’ that helps to control the grill’s cooking heat, ultimately producing better food.
When it comes to cleaning grill grates, there are two schools of thought.
If you have loads of time on your hands and are into burning extra calories, go the cold-cleaning route. Use your sink, bathtub or a plastic tub large enough to accommodate your grill grates. Soak them for several hours in warm, soapy water. Then apply serious elbow grease to scrubbing, scraping, rinsing, and drying your grates and more effort to removing greasy particles and residues left behind in your sink or tub. Never use toxic cleaning solutions, rinse all solutions thoroughly and allow extra time for grates to heat on their first outing to ensure all residues burn off before cooking. A tip for cold cleaning without harsh chemicals is to soak grates in brewed coffee for an hour or longer before scrubbing.
Depending on your propensity to grill with sugary marinades, cheeses and other substances that ossify with intense heat over time, even the most assiduous cold cleaning may not produce pristine grates. If you are more interested in speed and efficiency, your mantra for cleaning and maintaining grill grates should be: heat and treat. If you are lucky enough to have a self-cleaning oven, simply stick your grates and other removable metal parts into the oven and run the self-cleaning cycle. The extreme high heat will burn away grill grime and muck, leaving you with clean grates and a clean oven for the summer.
If you do not have a self-cleaning oven, invest in a high-quality wire grill brush and pair of high-heat-safe gloves or mitts. When the grill is hot, brush the grates firmly with as much pressure as you can apply safely without toppling the grill. After grilling, either brush grates while still hot and, when cooled, treat lightly with cooking spray, vegetable or olive oil to protect; or, simply leave the grates dirty as protection against the elements until the next time you grill. If you do not have a grill brush, a scrunched up piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil or half an onion used with extreme care (and high-heat-safe gloves) will also work to remove most stuck-on grime when the grill is hot.
For charcoal grills, be sure to remove cooled, spent ash after every use (and especially before it gets rained on). Gas grill briquettes should be periodically removed, shaken or brushed and gas jets cleared of grease and food debris, which can prohibit even distribution of heat. Flipping gas-grill briquettes periodically takes advantage of the grill’s high interior heat to clean them with virtually zero effort.
Finally, when not in use, remember to always cover your grill. Good eating!